Batter Licker

May 17, 2011

how to cook dried beans

Aren’t these beans beautiful? They should be showcased in a mason jar to bring some color and warmth to my ugly, scratched, white laminate countertop (it’s okay; I rent). Or used instead of rocks or glass marbles in the bottom of the vase on my dinner table. But I boiled them up with some onion and cilantro, and ate them instead.

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Clearly, interior design is not my strength, unless decorating the lining of my stomach counts. (I have a feeling it doesn’t.)

But cooking dried beans? That I can do. Especially when they are beautiful, relatively fresh dried beans. Not those sad ones that have been sitting in a bag on a grocery store shelf for 10 years. Even bulk bin beans, which are usually in more optimal shape than the plastic bagged variety, aren’t quite as good – although they’ll do in a pinch. But colorful beans with fun names like Rio Zape and Midnight Black! Exclamation point-worthy indeed! And check out these multi-colored Zarco beans! Are you excited about cooking beans yet? I am. (more…)

May 5, 2011

mexican tortilla lasagna with chorizo, kale and beans

Whenever I have extra tortillas sitting around after a night of mango-salsified and pink chipotle-sauced fish tacos, I typically insist on using them as is (pretending not to notice that they’re stale and ripping when I fold them for a taco or burrito), or during slightly more logical moments, I chop them into wedges, toss with olive oil, salt and cumin, and bake them into chips. This time, I pretended they were lasagna noodles.

Some might define insanity as repeating the same thing over and over, and expecting different results. But I bet a few of you are reading this and thinking that indulging my admitted illusion that tortillas can work as noodles is just another type of crazy. And you would probably be right.

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But I love an excuse to make Mexican food, and the miniature stack of leftover tortillas provided me with exactly that. (more…)

March 3, 2011

heirloom beans, broccoli rabe and pea shoots no-oil stir fry

Hardly a revelatory combination, beans and greens are typically spruced up with the standard flavors of Italy and southern regions of the United States. But I can only eat greens sauteed with garlic so many times before I start thinking I’m sick of the greens when, in fact, I’m actually sick of the repetitive flavors.

So I decided to branch out a bit and added some Asian flare to this hearty yet healthy dish.

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Part of my inspiration stemmed from the greens themselves, as broccoli rabe’s slightly bitter profile would clearly benefit from the bright and zesty ginger and the mild sweetness of the pea shoots. And, as I’ve mentioned before, pea shoots themselves taste similar to the snap peas found so often in Asian stir fry recipes, so I knew they’d be a natural match for a spicy Asian dish. But beans?

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Well, I can’t recall ever seeing beans featured in any of the wide variety of Asian meals I’ve had, except my favorite Vietnamese red bean and coconut milk drink dessert. Certainly not in a stir fry. But I had these lovely heirloom beans from Rancho Gordo on hand and already cooked, and I wanted to do something different with them. And why shouldn’t I?

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So I got to stir frying. (more…)

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